Ad Fatigue: What It Is and 4 Ways to Avoid It

By: Melissa McKay, Director of Display

It’s a safe bet that your target audience experienced ad fatigue from your campaigns at one time or another. It’s even more likely that you didn’t notice when it happened. That’s because ad fatigue is easy to overlook when you’re pulling so many other levers to optimize ROIBut ad fatigue can impact your ROI more than any optimization trick — and not in a good way. 

A woman gets bored with her laptop and phone due to ad fatigue.

What IAFatigue?  

Ad fatigue can happen with any channel  traditional or digital. It happens when your target audience sees your ads so much that they quit paying attention. Their engagement drops off. Your ads aren’t capturing any attention. Those impressions you’re paying for aren’t really making an impression anymore. And this makes sense: your customers don’t want to see the same ad over and over again. 

The effect is similar to ad creep when it comes to online viewership. Your stale campaign leaves a bad taste and your target audience can feel like your campaign is infringing on their space or wasting their time. 

How does your campaign get to this point? 

It’s simple, really.  

Ad fatigue sets in when similar ads appear so frequently that viewers become inured to their presence. And while they aren’t paying attention anymore, you’re still paying for it. That’s wasted spend that could be placed elsewhere. 

To help you get the most out of your online campaigns, check out these four ways to prevent ad fatigue from happening: 

1. Set Frequency Capping 

You should start by limiting your ad frequency, particularly if previous campaign performance has shown that higher frequency decreases engagement.  

Using Google Ads and the Google Display Ads, you can limit the frequency of your ads per user by using their frequency capping feature. Facebook offers the option to set a frequency cap to limit the number of times somebody will see your ad in a set period of time, too. Most platforms give advertisers the choice, but you’ll need to know your audience before setting the limit. Some groups are more receptive to higher frequencies of ads. 

It’s also helpful to know what the industry benchmarks for ad frequency are. Sometimes you can find this through a simple Google search but often you’ll need help from an industry-specific tool or a digital marketing agency. You may also want to inquire about reports from different market research firms to help set your benchmarks. Of course, if you run a campaign long enough you can look at your campaign performance and set your own cap, too. You can also A/B test the effectiveness of different frequency thresholds to make an informed decision about the cap you set. 

This is the first step in preventing ad fatigue, but it certainly isn’t the last.  

2. Run Multiple Ads at the Same Time 

Everybody at our agency knows how important it is to never run just one ad at a time. We recommend that you always measure ad performance against another ad that is currently in rotation. You can test one thing at a time and continue to update and optimize based on the performance of each ad. This will allow you to keep refining.  

Serving unique content to viewers will help ads from becoming stale, too. 

3. Keep an Eye on Automation 

While the use of automated bid options to optimize for clicks or conversions is compelling, advertising platforms aren’t keeping all your needs in mind. Because of that, you may notice that, even using automation, you start to inch towards ad fatigue due to platform or algorithm oversight. Since wasted spend in the eye of an advertiser is still just “spend” in the eyes of platform, preventing ad fatigue for brands isn’t always at the top of their list of priorities.  

So, keep an eye on the performance of each ad over time to make sure it’s not getting more visibility than it should. If you notice a poor-performing ad getting more investment allocated to it than it should, dig into what other factors may be contributing to it overserving.  

Has the ad been in the account for a long time, leading the platform to value its history? Is the ad a specific size that has more available inventory? Does the ad’s copy inadvertently attract clicks from an audience who has a lower propensity to actually convert? You can then use those insights to make data-driven decisions that will increase your ROI. 

4. Make Constant Changes to the Look and Feel of Your Ads 

When you rotate your ads, we recommend using new designs. Replace previously used images either in the background or in the foreground to keep things fresh. Something as simple as adding new colors can be a big help and re-captivate your audienceYou should also experiment with ad copy variants. 

Keep testing different elements like body copy, new headlines, and calls-to-action, too. Our teams are always trying different ad formats to mix it up. Make sure to test and tweak as you learn and put different ads into your campaign. Your campaign success depends on the revision, iteration, and creative experimentation of your ads. A successful campaign means minimal ad fatigue and that’s a big win. That’s why our creative team at Booyah Advertising is always busy! 

Begone Ad Fatigue! 

Follow these best practices and you’ll set yourself up for hard-hitting campaigns without the drag of ad fatigue. As a result, you’ll see less wastage and more investment going into advertising efforts that truly move the needle. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use impactful display and social advertising tactics and creative best practices to avoid ad fatigue, get in touch with our team. 

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